By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com June 21, 2011 at 2:39AM
Last year's "Shrek Forever After" was billed as the "final chapter" in the DreamWorks fairytale franchise, but with the four films grossing nearly $3 billion worldwide between them ("Shrek 2" remains the fifth biggest domestic grosser), the likelihood of Katzenberg & Co leaving the series alone was minimal. And so, barely 18 months after the fourth "Shrek," we'll see "Puss In Boots," a spin-off focusing on the Zorro-esque kitty voiced by Antonio Banderas in the second, third and fourth films.
All we've seen so far from the film -- DreamWorks' big fall hope -- was a deeply mediocre teaser a few months back, but just in time for the opening of "Cars 2" on Friday, the studio have released a new trailer, via Yahoo, and things are looking a little better.
The plot, a prequel to the "Shrek" films, sees Puss teaming with Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) and the mysterious Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) to stop a pair of villains (Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris) from destroying the world, and seems to be going for a sort of caper/"To Catch A Thief" vibe. The studio's new emphasis on hiring live action talent, including visual consultant Roger Deakins and executive producer Guillermo del Toro (who's been closely involved in 'Puss' in particular) are in evidence -- it looks pretty good, bar the lazy human background characters left over from the "Shrek" franchise, and the action seems to be well staged.
As for the jokes, not everything lands (particularly the eye-opening prison rape gag given to Galifianakis), but there's a few good ones in there. We're not holding out a ton of hope for this one, but with "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Cars 2" both disappointing so far this year, the bar has at least been lowered to the extent that we're now willing to check it out. The film hits theaters November 4th, and you can check out the trailer (and a new poster) below, or watch in HD over at Yahoo.